How to Create a 3D Text Effect with Stock Photos in Photoshop

Ashlee Harrell

In this tutorial, I will teach you how to create a text effect with the use of photos. This tutorial should take about two hours to complete if you’re already somewhat familiar with Photoshop.


Here’s a look at the end result of what you’ll be putting together today:


You’ll need a couple of extra resources for this tutorial. You can grab them at these links:

Step 1

Create a New Document in Photoshop. The size of my document is 3600px by 2700px at 72DPI.

Step 2

On your background layer, fill it with #C7C6B4. Then take you Brush Tool (401px soft round brush) and darken the outside edges of the canvas. The color I used is #878876.

Step 3

Now grab your type tool. The font I’m using is Baltar but I encourage you to try other fonts. With your type tool selected arrange the letters like the image below. I also used different font sizes. For this tutorial I am using the word ‘Creativity.’

Type Colors:

  • C: #ED211C
  • R: #ED7A1C
  • E: #39B54A
  • A: #07AC1D
  • T: #004A80
  • I: #EC008C
  • V: #EC0043
  • I: #ECBD00
  • T: #06EC00
  • Y: #A00BC0

Step 4

Note: It is a good idea to place each seperate letter in a folder so that you can keep it organized. Now let’s focus in on the letter “C” the color of this letter is #ED211C. Next, duplicate this letter by right-clicking then duplicate layer. On the original “C” layer apply this layer style.

Step 5

Now apply the Gradient Overlay. Note: You may have to move your cursor around on your canvas to get the gradient area just right.

Step 6

On the “C copy” layer move it below your original “C” layer and then move it over to the right and a bit upward like the image below.

Step 7

Make a new layer above your “C Copy” layer and grab your pen tool, what we will do now is connect the corners of the letter.

Step 8

Right-click the path you made and make a selection from it and fill it with #ED211C.

Step 9

Now rasterize the “C copy” layer and merge it with the layer above it (the areas that we used to connect the corners). Now we will change the Color Overlay in the Layer style panel (#BF1510).

Step 10

Now with the “C copy” layer still selected go to Layer > Layer Style > Create Layer. By doing this it should have created a sub layer above this layer. On the new layer grab your Burn tool and darken the areas where the shadow will be. The size of my brush is 66px soft round brush, Midtones, 50% Exposure.

Step 11

Now take your Dodge tool and brighten the areas you didn’t burn so that it looks like the image below.

Step 12

Add a Drop Shadow from the layer style panel.

Step 13

This is how your letter should look:

Step 14

Create a new layer above the original “C” letter layer and with your Brush tool 131px soft round brush (#FFFFFF) make it look like the image below.

Step 15

Change this layer to Overlay

Step 16

Grab your Brush tool again and increase the shadow by using #000000 on a new layer:

Step 17

Change the Opacity to 32%:

Step 18

Create a New layer and with a small 60px soft round brush #FFFFFF create light spots.

Step 19

Take your Smudge tool and move the light spots in one direction:

Step 20

I won’t go through the process with each individual letter, as the same process applies and can be easily repeated. Instead, I’ll provide the color information I used for each of them.

Letter R

Original “R” Gradient Overlay:

“R Copy” Color Overlay #c25b07:

Letter E

Original “E” Gradient Overlay: #B9B006> #F1E500 (Change the Blend Mode to Hard Light in the Layer Style Panel)

“E Copy” Color Overlay: #b9b006

Letter A

Original “A” Gradient Overlay: #9C4804> #F38A34 (Change the Blend Mode to Overlay)

“A Copy” Color Overlay: #047113

Step 23

Letter T:

Original “T” Gradient Overlay: #04253C> #FFFFFF

“T Copy” Color Overlay: #04253D

Step 24

Letter I:

Original “I” Gradient Overlay: #840550> #FFFFFF

“I Copy” Color Overlay: #840550

Step 25

Letter V:

Original “V” Gradient Overlay: #740726> #FFFFFF

“V Copy” Color Overlay: #740726

Step 26

Letter I:

Original “I” Gradient Overlay: #957907> #FFFFFF

“I Copy” Color Overlay: #957907

Step 27

Letter T:

Original “T” Gradient Overlay: #957907> #FFFFFF

“T Copy” Color Overlay: #057303

Step 28

Letter Y:

Original “Y” Gradient Overlay: #450653> #FFFFFF

“Y Copy” Color Overlay: #450653

Step 29

Here is how your image should look:

Step 30

Now underneath all of the letters, create a new layer and with your brush tool — grab the cloud brush and place clouds on this layer in #FFFFFF.

Step 31

With the Brush Tool still selected use a fairly large size soft round brush #88AFD7 and add some blue to the background.

Step 32

Create a new layer and use the a soft round brush #074387 and do the same as in the previous step. Change this layer to Linear Burn, Opacity: 51%.

Step 33

Create a New layer and with a soft round brush #000000 and add shadows to the bottom of the canvas, turn this layer to Opacity 22%

Step 34

Create a New layer above the clouds layer and grab your Rounded Rectangle Tool. I’m using a 300px radius with the color #EA6C00

Step 35

Change the Fill of this layer to 0%. And apply this layer style

Step 36

Arrange it behind the letters and create some more of these rounded rectangles with various sizes and colors.

Step 37

On the smaller ones I added a Drop Shadow and Outer Glow to give it an added effect.

Step 38

Create a New layer above all layers and with the pen tool make a light streak path. Note: Make sure that your Brush tool is set to the Flat Point Medium Stiff Point 28px. Go back to your pen tool and right-click > select stroke path

Step 39

Erase the unnecessary parts. Add Outer Glow

Step 40

Now use your stock photos and arrange them around the letters like so. For some of the images I gave them a slight Drop Shadow to blend them in better.

Step 41

I also used a soft round dark color brush to show the shadow from the letters on the flower, butterflies and so on. And your done!